Beach Project History

In January – February 2017 a marine construction contractor under contract to the Potomac Bay Estates Property Owners’ Association completed most of the work on the Association’s “beach project,” with remaining work to be completed in July 2017.  This project had been planned for several years and the early 2017 work was the culmination of extensive planning.


At the western end of Potomac Bay Estates (PBE) is a common area that is used by all residents as a picnic area.  The common area faces the Potomac River where a bulkhead protects the shoreline from erosion.  The SW corner of the common area joins Presley Creek and is the location of a boat launch ramp and a dock suitable for crabbing, fishing, and boating.

A gravel road crosses the common area and leads to a causeway that joins one PBE lot – Lot 52 – to the mainland.  Lot 52 comprises 12+/- acres and forms a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Potomac River (North) and Presley Creek (West and South).

When PBE was established in the late 1980’s, a beach area along and at the western end of the causeway was a prominent, attractive feature.  A deeded easement along the causeway and including the beach area provided PBE property owners with access to the beach for recreation.

By late 2006, several factors caused changes to the beach area, the causeway, and the deeded easement.  First, both natural erosion as well as catastrophic erosion and damage from Tropical Storm Ernesto in August 2006 destroyed the beach and damaged the causeway.  Access to Lot 52 was threatened by damage to the causeway.  Second, a succession of deed adjustments and agreements between the original owners of Lot 52 and the Association blurred the exact locations of easements, some of which had disappeared (or, all but disappeared) in Ernesto.  Third, Lot 52 was sold to the current owners in 2006.  In the wake of Ernesto, they installed extensive shoreline protection around most of Lot 52 to prevent loss of the causeway and further loss of their waterfront property.

In 2007-8, the PBE Property Owners’ Association (POA) investigated courses of action to restore or replace the beach and shoreline that had been destroyed.  The POA obtained preliminary plans and estimates for the project.  However, at the same time, the POA found it necessary to upgrade the community’s water system, to include drilling a new well, installing some new underground pipes, and constructing a building to hold pump control electronics and water system monitoring equipment.

While the beach project continued to be a matter of discussion by the Association, no action was taken until after the water project was completed in late 2014.

2015 Actions

In 2014 and early 2015, the POA Board and some property owners met with:  design engineers; engineers from the State of Virginia and the Army Corps of Engineers; marine construction contractors; and, an attorney who specialized in riparian property issues.  As a result of these meetings, information was developed about the requirements for a project to restore a beach at the common area as well as protecting the common area bulkhead.

The POA Board developed several documents that were provided to members prior to the 2015 annual meeting.

At the 2015 annual meeting, the membership empowered the Board to proceed with final planning, to include resolving property issues between the POA and Lot 52.  For a record of the annual meeting, see the 2015 annual meeting minutes on the Minutes page of this website.

2016 – 2017 Actions

At the 2016 annual meeting the Board presented a detailed proposal, complete with a financial plan.   This proposal was based mainly on the documents provided property owners before the 2015 annual meeting.  Because of the complexity of the decision, Association members were advised the Board would provide everyone with detailed documents and request a vote on the proposal at a later date.   These discussion were memorialized in the minutes of the 2016 annual meeting.

In November 2016, the PBE POA Board contacted all property owners with a request to approve the project, including approving a land transfer between the POA and owners of Lot 52.  The two documents provided to the members were:

By early December 2016, members voted to approve the project.  Votes were received by email and postal mail and recorded by the POA Secretary.

In December 2017, the attorney who was preparing the deed and plat to finalize the land transfer agreements between the POA and owners of Lot 52 determined that two small parcels of land needed to be transferred between the two parties.  A second vote of the membership was required.  In early January 2017, members were provided with two documents and asked to vote.

In early January 2017 members voted to approve the land transfer.  Votes were received by email and postal mail and recorded by the POA Secretary.

January – February 2017

The PBE POA Board signed a contract with Cockrell Marine Construction of Heathsville, VA, and construction started immediately.  The attorney who prepared the revised plat and deed recorded these documents at the Northumberland County (Virginia) courthouse.  The owners of Lot 52 issued a check for a substantial portion of the project cost, in accordance with their earlier offer.  Details of the final proceedings on the beach project are recorded in minutes of the PBE POA Board meetings of January 6 and February 10, 2017, copies of which are on the Minutes page of this website.

Marine construction is prohibited between February 15 and June 30 to accommodate spawning and migration by fish and crabs in the Potomac River.  An extension was obtained until February 25, by which time construction on the beach project was substantially complete.   Work that is not in the water can continue.  As of early March 2017, the contractor was working onshore to clear the common area of construction materials, grade the area, and sow grass.  He will return in July to complete work to reinforce the old breakwater, located in the Potomac to the NW of the common area.  PBE volunteers will complete work to extend the new observation deck by approximately 50 feet.

Photos of the beach project as of late February/early March 2017 can be viewed on the Beach Project Photos page of this website.